The end of America trip

So I’ve been meaning to finish off writing about my time in America on here for quite sometime!

 

After Los Angeles I made my way back to New York, via Chicago. Back in New York I had one night before getting on the ship back to the UK. This time without mum was a very different experience. I had my own room with balcony (I got upgraded!) and I was sat at dinner time on a table of six. A gentleman called Steve from Texas, an older widowed lady from Florida. A young lad called Christian from Switzerland who had been working on a ranch in south Dakota for 13 months and a mother and daughter from Louisiana. Dinner time held some interesting conversations. A lot about American politics. There were opposing views on a lot of ideas and government policies. Most if which I knew not a lot about. But it was interesting never the less. 

 

In the evenings after dinner we accompanied each other to shows, to the casino etc and during the day I spent most my time reflecting on my incredible trip and also walking around the ship and reading. 

The crossing was incredibly smooth, and again, like before I felt like I wasn’t even on a ship. I kept having to remind myself I was by disappearing out on deck!! 

 

My trip to America was really rather incredible. To have travelled in a circle all the way around the states and get back to the UK without stepping foot onto a plane was pretty remarkable. Most people think I’m bonkers. Especially when I told them upon my return to the UK. 

 

I particularly loved the fact I didn’t get on a plane. Getting to see all the various terrains and cities and environments of the states. From hot to hotter and then to cooler. I do love that country. Seeing close friends and family is obviously a highlight as seeing each other again will always be perhaps years ahead of time.

 

I was there for 2 and a half months. This time whizzed by. Particularly when I arrived home it felt like no time at all. When I go to Borneo it’s for 13 weeks. I’m pretty sure once I’m in the swing of things there it will all go rather fast! 

 

Top places I think people should go to in the states that I visited: 

 

Seattle ( particularly the Olympic peninsula)

Boston- tea party tour

Chicago – go to the old town fair or blues festival 

Niagara Falls – only need to go once, and regardless off the commercial side of it it’s still spectacular.

San Francisco- walk or cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge

Rhode Island – anywhere coastal, has a beautiful maritime feel to it.

 

There we go!! Those were my fave things. Other than that I loved doing America by train. You get to meet some really weird and wonderful people. The views, particularly on the west coast are spectacular to witness. And like I have now mentioned probably too much; you really feel like you have journeyed to get to where you are going and in a way it makes you appreciate distance and time a lot more. And bizarrely feels more like getting back to basics. Back to older times in history where planes did not exist. It helps you to understand and appreciate the evolution of humanity so much better and in particular the evolution of transport. 7 days on a ship back to the UK as opposed to 7 hours by flight. Back over 100 years ago it took a ship 27 days!! The difference is phenomenal. 

 

Anyways back in England now for 4 weeks before leaving on my next adventure to Borneo. Plenty of fundraising and work and prep to do before I leave. I will keep you posted on my antics at home before continuing this blog in Borneo 🙂

Space & Time

Day: Thursday 30th May 2013

 

Ships position: 44 degrees 28.81’N, 055 degrees 30.24′ W

Ships time: 12.50

GMT: 15.50

Weather: gentle breeze, foggy, 12 degrees C

 

After breakfast this morning, me and mum made our way up to a point on the ship where you can overlook the bridge. No cameras allowed here, so no photos I’m afraid. There are huge windows directly behind the rather large bridge area overlooking all the computers and instruments and of course the crew inside. It also offers a spectacular view out of the front of the ship.

The officers operate on watches, with one senior officer and one 3rd officer on each of the three watches. There is a12-4 o’clock watch, a 4-8 o’clock watch and an 8-12 o’clock watch. 6 of the senior style officers take one of these time slots (in pairs) and obviously twice a day. It was really interesting looking at all of the radars and computer screens and seeing all the lights flashing and what not. They didn’t appear to be doing much (the officers not the computers I hasten to add) it seems as if the whole ship is on autopilot. It never seizes to amaze me how much we rely on computers and technology to guide us through life and in this case guide a 151,400 tonne ship through the Atlantic.

 

A few facts about the Queen Mary 2:

 

First voyage: 12th January 2004

Length: 1132 ft (345 m)

Width: 131 ft (39.9 m)

Draft: 32 ft (9.75 m)

Height: 236 ft (71.9 m)

Guest accommodation: 1309

Guest capacity: 2618

Guest decks: 13

Ships crew: 1240

 

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After almost an hour of staring at the bridge activity, entranced; I then wondered off in a dream like state to the library. You almost have to fight to get a good spot in the library on a seat right at the front of the ship overlooking the ocean ahead. The library is obviously in its peak hour but luckily for me I manage to grab a seat right in the middle and at the front of the ship! I grab a book to read and begin. Its a fiction novel, and I find after about 2 pages I am deeply involved in this romantic thriller. I forget this is why I don’t read that much anymore. Or haven’t done in a while. I become so antisocial it’s unreal. I can’t really function doing much else until I’ve finished the book. I get so lost in someone else’s world, albeit fiction or not, that I am fairly certain I must be a nightmare to be around in these times. In fact, an ex-boyfriend once sighed with relief when I finished the twilight series as it meant that he had ‘gotten me back’. Quite comical really. Anyhow, I am writing this blog a day late because of this fact. I also read ridiculously fast. I finished the book at 7am this friday morning (today) after starting it yesterday afternoon. And don’t think that’s all I did in this time!

 

Admittedly I did miss the galley tour (kitchens) that mum went along to. But I didn’t miss a short documentary in the planetarium on whether life exists outside of our solar system. It’s seems ridiculous that there is a planetarium onboard this ship. But there we were staring up at a huge concave screen being taken on a 3D journey through space and time and our known universe. Narrated by Harrison ford; I wouldn’t say it was particularly educational for me (I’ve watched documentaries on this before) but it was very visually exciting. It was one of those 3D things you watch where you actually feel like you are moving along with the images you are seeing.

 

I do love watching stuff like this, but I can’t help getting that almost nauseating feeling in the pit of my stomach after a while; as what documentaries like this do to me is remind me how incredibly minuscule we are in the awesome humongous known universe that we are part of. It also makes you start up the question of why we are here, is it purely biological and scientific or is there a more philosophical, godly essence to our overall creation…?

 

I guess this is more of a conversational topic. And not one I am quite prepared to go off on one about now. Maybe later. Either way, I 100% believe that there is other life out there in our known universe. Which, like I mentioned, after a while of getting really involved in thinking about this, makes me feel a little ill at the vast amount of things we just don’t know.

 

To bring it back to the ocean though, I’m sure most of you know this, but we know far more about space than we do about our oceans. Which is pretty crazy if you really think about it.

 

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Anyway after this lovely documentary, some more reading and then showering we disappeared off down to dinner in our finest. Tonight is a masquerade ball. Earlier on we had dropped by today’s sales on the shopping level. Mum managed to get a mask (I already had one I bought in Leighton buzzard with Sam before the secret garden party last year) and I bought a scarf, bag and some jewellery. Everything was $10. It would have been rude not to….

 

Tonight there was a chefs parade at dinner. This meant the seemingly endless amount if chefs come out of the galley to parade to rhythmic applause from all the guests all around the restaurant. A few speeches and photos later we polished off our yummy dinner and then went off to the theatre. We watched a performance by the Cunard singers and dancers. It took us on a journey of world dance essentially. They are pretty blooming spectacular these guys. Absolutely stunning dancing, and just stunning in general.

 

Then donning our masks we entered into the masquerade ball which was taking place in the queens room (basically the ball room of the ship) here we mainly watched and admired the dresses and masks of the participants and sipped our (now drink of choice!) mojitos. I did get up to waltz with a few gentlemen, which in a masks is strangely liberating. You literally don’t care who is watching. In fact you quite enjoy it!

 

I bumped into Florence and also the other German friends I’d made, they all looked beautiful. After chatting with them for a while. We retired for the evening. Mainly so I could continue my book to be honest. But I was also pretty shattered.

 

The weather had deteriorated somewhat throughout the day. There is a intense amount of fog outside our balcony. The area we are passing through at the moment, beneath Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, is notorious for its fog. Fortunately this had no affect on the movement of the ship. As always it sits solidly in the ocean barely moving. Every now and then you can feel the motion of the ocean (haha) but I guess after 6 days we’ve also got quite used to any movement anyway. And as with most foggy situations in the ocean, the sea was hardly moving. Quite eerie really…

 

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Cruising

Wednesday 29th may 2013   So with my little essay regarding decision making I neglected to tell you about my day at sea yesterday (Wednesday)….   Woke up and watched a movie called the marriage vow. Or something like that. It starred robin Williams and Mandy Moore. Of all the weird combinations. Pretty funny rom […]

Conquering the Atlantic

Day 4: Tuesday 28th May 2013

 

Ships position: 46 degrees 59.96′ N 032 degrees 43.64′ W

Ships time: 10.15

GMT: 13.15

Weather: A moderate 17 degrees C

 

(If anyone knows where the degrees symbol is on an i-pad let me know!)

 

Woke up around sun rise this morning (4.30am) fell asleep at about 1am UK time, but the ship time was 10pm… It’s all very well and good the clocks going back an hour every night but it means I’m exhausted in the evening and bright as a button in the morning. Those who know me well know that this is a rare phenomenon.

 

Went off to a lecture called ‘Steam conquers the Atlantic’. It was packed out and I now know why! Was pretty spectacular history of transatlantic crossings and the rivalry between the states and England. Part of a two part lecture, the other one is later on in the voyage.

 

Cunard, the company that runs the ship I’m on amongst the other queens (Elizabeth 2 and Victoria) sent its first ship, the Britannia, across the Atlantic in the middle of the 1800’s using steam. Before that loads of American companies had ruled the transatlantic always departing from New York and by method of sailing. The fastest sail ship took around 25 days to cross the Atlantic….

 

Introducing steam ships was pretty revolutionary but very expensive and heavy… They could get through 40 tonnes of coal a day or something crazy like that. Up until Cunard, like I mentioned the Americans ruled the waves. A few American companies switched to steam too but had a few particularly non successful voyages. Collisions, sinking and in one case a ship departed from Liverpool in the 1860’s and hasn’t completed its voyage yet…

 

After the American wars Cunard took over, and then another line sprung up in the UK called the white star line. When Cunard began all their ships were named ending in ‘ia’ for example the Britannia, the Arcadia etc. the white star line decided to name their ships ending in ‘ic’.

 

You may figure out where this is going now… But essentially the Americans just let the English get on with it and took a step back from the whole transatlantic shenanigans. The white star line launched various ships like the pacific, the gigantic etc, and most famously the titanic.

 

This is where the lecture stopped! So, more interesting factoids to come on that later in the week….

 

I decided not to eat lunch today. I’m still full from Sunday so it was probably a good idea.

This afternoon saw us attending the 2nd ocean seminar. Again an interesting education mainly involving all the work that is being done to observe and monitor the oceans movements across the globe. This included learning about the satellites, buoys that dive under the water for 4 days recording everything and then come back up to the surface to transmit their findings to inland stations before diving under again. They can do this about 500 times. Ships all round the globe have equipment onboard that record vital statistics and goings on in the ocean. Planes are used as hurricane chasers, satellites can pick up the formations of a hurricane a pretty sufficient amount of time in advance. Probes are at the bottom of the ocean recording plate activity and transmitting data to an attachment buoy in the surface that in turn transmits data to satellite which in turn communicates back down to earth the likelihood of a tsunami based in the readings.

Found out that I am currently in the most safe place if there was to be a tsunami. If the mid Atlantic ridge, (probably still directly beneath me..) endured an earth quake, the wave starts from right underneath us and doesn’t actually form on the surface of the ocean until its a lot closer to land.

Submersibles are used to go down to the deepest parts of our ocean. The deep sea trenches. We as humans would explode if we were to go down there ourselves. Water pressure at the deepest point in the ocean is more than 8 tonnes per square inch, this is the equivalent apparently of 1 person trying to hold 50 jumbo jets!

We do however have human submersible that can hold about 3 people inside and can dive down to just under 15,000 feet below the ocean surface. This is not on my bucket list as something to do.

The world scientists all share any new information they gather from our oceans from all over the globe, which is very nice. Like a communal platform of new information and data all day everyday.

An interesting seminar. I had not realised being in this cruise ship would be quite the education!

After the seminar we chilled for a while before getting ready for dinner.

We were informed that a yacht was out to the starboard side of the ship. The yacht was on the 4th and final leg if its around the world trip. It was 6 days out from Bermuda and 9 days away from lymington. Pretty mental lifestyle choice, but I bet its incredible.

After doing the competent crew sailing our last summer with my brothers, I am genuinely interested in going to work on a yacht somewhere on the globe for a season at some point in my life!! Was such an amazing experience and it was only a week long. Just need to persuade the brothers and I’m sure we’ll be on the way…

Some pilot whales were also at the front of the ship at some point this morning, but I didn’t see them which made me sad 😦

Before dinner I found a place on the ship I hadn’t been to yet (of which there are loads more I am sure) its called the lookout point and its right at the top front of the ship. So rather titanic stylee (minus the dreamy Leonardo di caprio and the epic love story) I literally stood at the front of this huge ship, in the middle if the atlantic transfixed by the beauty of the sea and the horizon and the sky for about half an hour. I could literally have stayed up there all day.

Dinner was lovely. Our waiter now knows to call us by name. Well last name anyways. That makes you feel quite special… Afterwards we went to watch a violinist play in the theatre. She was incredible and her name is Jacqueline Roche. One piece I’m going to have to look up was from an Italian movie and it literally made me well up!

 

Anyways, after this we went to our cabin. In England it was about half past midnight but on the ship it’s  half past 9. Still whilst mum fell asleep I wondered down to the nightclub and had a drink and chin waggle with the DJ called Chris. I was really trying to stay awake as long as possible. But all this eating and doing nothing is very tiring so eventually I went to bed.